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PML’s Professor Angus Atkinson awarded MBE in the King's Birthday Honours

18 June 2024

Professor Atkinson has been recognised for his services to Polar Marine Research and Conservation, at the same time his father Anthony Atkinson was also awarded an MBE for his services to Wildlife and Ecology. 
Professor Angus Atkinson

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is delighted by the announcement that Marine Ecologist Professor Angus Atkinson has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the King's Birthday Honours, which mark “the extraordinary contributions and service of people across the UK”. 

Angus is a well-respected merit scientist, interested in all aspects of marine ecology and biogeochemistry, but with main focal areas on plankton and krill species, and particularly in polar regions and in the north Atlantic. 

He has had a long-standing interest in the generation of long time series which show clues into how real-world zooplankton assemblages have already responded, over multiple decadal timescales, to rapid climate change. 

One of his latest publications discovered a hidden amplifying mechanism within the ocean's food web, with climate change silently eroding the ocean's ability to provide fish, with even small declines in plankton leading to much bigger drops in fish stocks.   

Read the paper: ‘Steeper size spectra with decreasing phytoplankton biomass indicate strong trophic amplification and future fish declines’ >> 

The MBE for his services to Polar Marine Research and Conservation is further recognition of Angus’s outstanding contributions to marine science. Earlier this year, Angus was awarded an Honorary Professorship from the University of Plymouth. An Honorary Professorship is conferred on a person who has academic standing equivalent to that of a Professor, and who maintains regular, significant and impactful involvement in the University. 

Angus commented on the news: 

“It is a real honour to receive this award. It is also an amazing coincidence, with my Dad also getting the MBE award letter on the same day, but for a totally different topic – terrestrial ecology and conservation.” 


Above: Both Angus and his father Anthony were listed side by side in the Kings Birthday Honours list. 

Angus developed an interest in marine biology from an early age, going out on his father’s trawler from Plymouth. They were catching over 100 tons of mackerel in a single night and selling them for fishmeal, in a fishery that was very badly managed. The fishery soon collapsed, and Tony had to get out of fishing, and this avoidable catastrophe cemented an ambition in Angus to be a marine biologist.  

Angus’s MBE was awarded for research and provision of a database to help towards sustainable management of the fishery for Antarctic krill. Meanwhile Tony, originally a farmer, was equally aware of how destructive farming and fishing can be to the environment. In a true “poacher-turned gamekeeper” role, he devoted his massive amounts of energy to natural history, conservation and terrestrial recording. While Tony’s interest and knowledge is exceptionally broad, he has maintained a lifelong interest in the ecology and conservation of bats. 


Above: Anthony Atkinson at the helm of his 35 m midwater trawler "Vigilance" 

This wonderful news comes in the same week as our Dr Shubha Sathyendranath received an MBE in recognition of her services to oceanography.  

Related information

The official announcement and the full King’s Birthday Honours list can be found at:  

Professor Angus Atkinson 

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